Blogs by InnovatorsBox®

How To Nurture Your Mindset For Online Connections

I’ve always felt that I “come alive” during my in-person workshops, meetings, and speaking events. But this past year I joined the entire world in shifting my presence virtually, which created several roadblocks to connecting that I never had to experience before. The way I used to engage in conversations is now different; and I’m no longer able to scan the room during an event and see everyone’s reactions & hear their questions.

While there is a lot of research that points to the fact that we are NOT as present when we interface virtually, we CAN be intentional about how we show up online and be present for people there too. The internet is the universal connector for everyone, and we can “technically” achieve everything we do in person online. 

So why is it so hard to connect online, especially with those who you haven’t met yet?

You can boil down some of the most common roadblocks to connecting virtually into three categories:

Technical: Technical disturbances affecting how we show up online and how it affects our conversations. Such as:

-Lack of quality sound, which can lead to misinterpretation. 

-Animation glitches on screen, often because of poor internet connection or wifi coverage, that make it hard to read body language and facial expressions. 

-Unintentional miscommunications due to the lack of inflection in typed words (which emojis can help with, to an extent).

Psychological: Leading workshops and speaking events in person always invigorated me because of how much passion and energy I put into my work. In the past year, I’ve experienced that not being able to see someone in person can make it hard for them to “see me.”  

Something about being online makes everything feel more “formal.” We’ve lost the informality of the coffee breaks and “water cooler” talk. Plus, we all know how much more distracting it can be to work a few steps away from where you eat, or sleep, or relax! Plus, there’s always this one same person staring back at you from your screen!

Physical: Losing the physical touch and seeing each other in 2D rather than 3D makes everything feel “less human.” Plus, I simply miss giving hugs! It’s part of the way I communicate that’s simply lost now.

I was able to connect much more deeply with people when I traveled, but now that’s not possible either! At least not on the same level.

So what now?

Connecting Online Is Here To Stay, So Here’s How To Reframe Your Mindset To Connect More Meaningfully

A Gartner survey found that over 82% of companies say they plan to continue remote work in some capacity. Don’t hit your head on the keyboard just yet! The pandemic has presented a wonderful opportunity to develop your online presence.

In a talk I hosted for John Hopkins University called “Rethink Online Expression,” I outlined how to break down your online experience into actionable ways to connect better online.

It’s all about focusing on rethinking what we CAN do, instead of just trying to replicate what we CAN’T do online.

Think about your past online experiences versus your in-person experiences.

What Can You Do?

What Can’t You Do?

What Can You Continue To Do?

Now instead of focusing on what you can’t do (like giving hugs), focus on what you can replicate online that you loved doing in person. You might just find that there are more opportunities available to you now than ever.

In my case, I can now take notes and organize my thoughts while I speak using a digital whiteboard. I can also call people by their names more easily because technology allows me to see their names right under their faces. Yes, I do see myself, and it can be distracting, but I use that as a chance to improve my posture and body language. I’m honing my presentation skills through this opportunity of online connections.

What Is ONE Thing You Can Do Differently To Show Up Online?

Oftentimes less is more, and the same can be said about improving your online presence. After reflecting and analyzing what you CAN do to connect online, you might have a huge list in front of you. Pick one thing you can practice over time as you continue to present yourself virtually, then hold yourself accountable.

Once you get over the mindset handicap associated with connecting online, all the “tactical” ways to connect will come naturally.

Changing how you think changes how you feel.

Investing in creatively rethinking your mindset allows you to explore possibilities you never considered before, and gives you room to take action. You don’t need a specific event for creativity to come flowing. A change in perspective can spark an entirely new train of thought that will help you find opportunities and solutions out of nowhere seemingly without effort. New approaches may allow you to turn what seems like a losing scenario into a winning one, which can be just as rewarding as achieving your creative idea! Yes, even virtually. 

How do you feel when you show up online as your authentic self?

About the Author

Picture of Monica H. Kang

Monica H. Kang

Monica H. Kang, Founder, and CEO of InnovatorsBox® and Author of Rethink Creativity is transforming today’s workforce through the power of creativity. She helps companies rethink culture, leadership, and team development by making creativity practical and relatable regardless of industry or job title. She has worked with clients worldwide including Fortune 500 companies, higher education, government, and nonprofits. Monica’s work has been recognized by The White House, Ashoka Changemakers, National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), and Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). Prior to InnovatorsBox®, Monica was a nuclear nonproliferation policy expert. She holds an M.A. from SAIS Johns Hopkins University in Strategic Studies and International Economics and a B.A. from Boston University.

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